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The “El Paso 9” continue their hunger strike into the 7th week at the El Paso Processing Center. Nine of 11 Sikh asylum seekers are being violently force-fed by ICE staff and late last week all nine were thrown into solitary confinement after refusing to be force-fed standing up, according to their attorney.
Detention staff restrain the men and feeding tubes are forced through their noses, down their throats, and into their stomachs, according to their attorney Liquids are being delivered directly through IVs in their arms. They say they are suffering from rectal and nasal bleeding alongside persistent, crippling stomach and throat pain. Poorly administered IVs have left deep bruises on their arms.
The United Nations last week issued a statement voicing concern that their treatment might be contravening the UN convention against torture.
“The abuse the “El Paso 9″ are facing is part of a persistent pattern of criminalization and dehumanization of migrants through government policies and actions,” said Lourdes Ortiz, of Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC). “Statistics may show that El Paso is “safe,” but the community must push for this safety to extend to everyone. ICE detention is a prime example of so-called security that involves violence and the use of force. We must be ready to reject it and not allow harmful structures that undermine this city’s safety ”
Lakshmi Sridaran of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said: “For years now we’ve tracked the physical and psychological abuse of asylum seekers at the hands of ICE staff in this facility. The intentionally opaque detention system makes civil rights and due process violations repeatedly possible with little oversight. President Trump is rallying for border security today in El Paso while ICE officials engage in a culture of violence and retaliation.”
DMSC, SAALT, and 25 partner organizations submitted a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, calling for the immediate release of the asylum seekers on hunger strike at the El Paso Processing Center and an investigation into the facility. Community groups launched a petition to support the hunger strikers at the El Paso Processing Center.
Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC) is a community group based in El Paso, TX, that fights to free the border from the criminalization and mass incarceration of migrants. We aim to reach this goal through support services, organizing, and actions that promote more humane public policy and respect for migrants and other marginalized communities.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States.